Stress And The Grand Canyon: Are We In Denial?

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Earlier this week, I posed the question: What do stress and the Grand Canyon have in common?

Answer: erosion, destructive power, and relentless wear and tear.

I also asked the following question:

“What if we pictured stress in our minds as having similar destructive effects as the Colorado River had on the Grand Canyon?  Do you think we would have any more urgency for doing something about it?”

Sadly, for many of us…the answer is no.  That’s because we have a remarkable capacity for denying the impact that stress is actually having in our lives.

My Visit To The Grand Canyon

Years ago, I had the good fortune to visit the Grand Canyon for the very first time. My wife was attending a veterinary conference there, and I went along with her.

Prior to this trip, I thought I “knew” a lot about the Grand Canyon.  After all, I had seen pictures of it for years. I had even seen an Imax movie that made me feel like I was actually there.  So I really wasn’t expecting much from the real experience.  Boy was I wrong about that!

Hiking hikers in Grand Canyon enjoying view

The first time I walked up to the edge of the Canyon and looked in (that’s not me in the picture) my body was overcome with some kind of powerful force that hit me unexpectedly.  I couldn’t believe the power and the force of the emotion.  It was nothing like the pictures or even the movie.  It was real.  It was raw.  It was undeniable.

What I discovered was that having a conceptual idea about the Grand Canyon and standing right in front of it were two entirely different things.  One was a conceptual “image” of the effects of the passage of millions of years of time.

The other was a visceral experience of the majestic impact of that enormous amount of time.  As a concept for me, visiting the Grand Canyon was no big deal.  But when confronted with the real thing, I could not escape the profound reality of the experience.

Practicing Medicine Is Like Sitting On The Edge Of The Grand Canyon

When you are a practicing physician, as I was for 23 years (plus 7 years of training), you are confronted with the reality of stress (and how destructive it can be) every day.  If I saw 20-30 patients a day, at least half of them would be suffering from consequences of years of chronic stress.  The other half, if they were sick from something else, would now be “stressed” because they were not feeling well, or simply because they were just visiting a doctor.  Thus, it was non-stop stress awareness for me every single day.

The awful consequences of stress was not just a distant concept for me.  It was a stark reality that was constantly in my face.

Unlike others, I couldn’t rationalize the destructive effects of stress away.  I couldn’t pretend it’s not harmful.  I couldn’t put my head in the sand and think that the long-term effects of stress weren’t headed my way.  Because every day, multiple times each day, I was reminded that they were.

So, I knew very well that I had to do something about it.  And I did.  How about you?  How much longer are you going to wait?  Are you willing to wait until you eventually get sick or become disabled?

Or are you going to act a lot sooner?

NOTE: For more information about my unique approach to eliminating stress, please visit


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamina June 2, 2014 at 8:42 AM

This is a powerful metaphor Mort!
And I really like your new website.


Katherine Kelly June 2, 2014 at 6:32 PM

The Grand Canyon lends itself to many metaphors– so glad you found yours! I’ve been there 5 times because I feel so restored when I am there. I even want my ashes spread there when I pass so I can re-enter the evolutionary cycle (need a permit to do that by the way….).
I’m planning to lead a spiritual trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon to help people restore their souls, using the many metaphors of the land to aid in their process. Trips will be next spring and fall.

Thanks for sharing!

K Kelly


Roy Mayhugh June 3, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Doc; Thanks for leading me to read this article. I know that worry and tension are eroding my body and mind. Like many people, I want to do something about it. I’ve been through your “Overcoming Negative Emotions” course. I really recommend it to anyone who has the money and time. The Grand Canyon didn’t stop the Colorado River, It’s still having it’s effect. I could use more training. Thanks for all you do.


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